Test Ride: Cambridge to Lincoln

 I have bought a new “bean-style” bag for the summer trip  — which seemed like a good idea give the pain and suffering that the bean-of-doom caused me on my previous trip and which had been endlessly chronicled in previous posts. However, before heading off to Stockholm it seemed prudent to give the bean, bike and body a bit of a work out. 

Son-of-bean is a Restrap Saddle Bag which certainly seems to be very well constructed  I also added a Restrap Handlebar Bag so I could be “matchy matchy” and look cool on the road.

It’s a difficult job choosing a route for a test. Needs to be long enough for a good work out. Has to involve an overnight stay to make sure I have all the right stuff packed. Best to to not be hilly so I don’t kill myself. 

Cambridge to Lincoln is was a pan flat 188km according to my new Garmin 840 head unit and would necessitate an overnight stay. I booked the Holiday Inn a week ago and had the joy of them sending me an email *every effing day* about the joys of Lincoln and the joys of staying at the Holiday Effing Inn. 

I left bright and early on Saturday. It was forecast to get hot (>30C) and I’m not terribly well adapted to the heat yet so an early start seemed sensible.  Through Cambridge and then out on the Cambridge Guided White Elephant Busway seemed to go well.  The bike felt good, the bean was behaving itself, it was relatively cool and sunny.

Somewhere half way up the busway I turned north towards the Fenlands and into a reasonably robust headwind.  This was a little unexpected and also dispiriting since I had another 160km to go.

Nice bean you've got there mate.

I passed through the wildly named Earith which does sound like it should be a major character in some J.R.R Tolkien book.

What say the elves Earith?

But mostly it was just long long straight and flat roads with fields as far as they eye can see.  I had thought the plains of Poland were a little dull in places but compared to the Fenlands, they're the Champs Éysées on the last day of the Tour de France.  Earith turned into March which turned into Wisbech.  It got hotter, it got windier.  I stopped in a little town called Hollbeech and had a terrible coffee.  The roads got straighter, the landscape more boring.

Mind numbing

Finally I made it to Boston which is not a lovely place.  I think Boston was the most "brexity" of any town in the UK and one can see why.  There isn't much to do and there aren't many jobs.  I managed to find a Costa and forced down a chicken sandwich and a peach flavoured iced tea.  I think I might have been getting a bit dehydrated by this point.

Finally I turned a bit more towards the west and the wind had done me a favour of veering a bit more to the east (is it veering or backing?....it's veering) so for some of the remainder of the ride I had a bit of a tailwind.  Eventually I hit the Water Rail Way.  This is a really nice 25k cycle way along the side of the River Witham.  It's not quite as nice as it could be with some poor signage and some pretty rough parts of the path where cheap construction, freeze-thaw and tree-roots have made it tiresome to cycle along.

There was a little bit of muttering under my breath when the off-road section of the Water Rail Way path appeared.

Oh great...
It was about 10k of bumping along and hoping not to fall off or get a puncture.

Eventually the tower of Lincoln Cathedral appeared on the horizon.  Weirdly, it was once the tallest building in the world.  The spire of the cathedral was constructed in 1311 and was 160m high.  Unfortunately, it collapsed in 1548 but, if it had remained standing, it would have been the highest building in the world until the Washington Monument was completed in 1884.  

The last bit into Lincoln was easy and I rolled through the regenerated harbour area dodging drunk people on the hunt for chain restaurant food.

The international standard for rehydration

I hunted out my own chain restaurant food and then slept the sleep of the righteously tired.

So how did it go?  Well...Son-of-Bean did exceptionally well.  Rock solid on the back of the bike (even when sprinting away from traffic lighs), relatively easy to pack and seemed to survive bumping up and down kerbs etc without any sign of damage.  Obviously a couple of thousand KM is going to give it a sterner test but the signs are looking good.  As always, the bat bike performed admirably.  My body maybe didn't survive quite as well.  It was hot and windy and there were times where I really felt entirely devoid of energy.  I suspect this is because I don't have enough summer riding under my belt so that problem should fix itself over the next couple of months.

Here's the Strava activity.

Should be leaving for Stockholm from Cambridge on the 28th of July.  Watch this space.


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